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Matatus hike fares as police start enforcing self-distancing in PSVs

Kenyans have started paying dearly for the measures that the govewrnment announced will be put in place to curtail the spread of the coronavirus in the country.

On Sunday, traffic police officers started enforcing one of those measures in the public transport industry requiring matatus to carry fewer passengers as part of steps to curb coronavirus spread.

A spot check by Nairobi News established that majority of the commuter vehicles have decided to pass the burden onto their passengers and increased their fares drastically.

Matatu operators plying the Kasarani- Mwiki route said they had no option but to charge commuters double their normal fares, this saw passengers pay Sh100 up from Sh50.

This amount only counts on weekends, but during the weekdays passengers are normally charged between Sh80 to Sh100 per trip.

“What else can we do, we have to fuel the matatu if we want to be able to ferry passengers tomorrow or the matatu will not leave the parking lot the following day,” said a matatu driver.

In the Kahawa West route, the situation was the same but some passengers felt it was a burden they can carry saying it is better that the government is enforcing the self-distancing directive.

“It is for my health, now I can breathe and cough and I don’t mind paying that extra coin,” said one passenger.

In the Umoja Innercore route, it was a different scenario as a manager in one of the matatu saccos said they will wait and see how everything will pan out on Monday before chatting the way forward.

“We will not hike the prices but if we will be forced to have the passengers self-distance then we will ground our vehicles,” said James Mburu.

On Friday, Health CS Mutahi Kagwe directed that 25-seater PSVs should carry 15 passengers only while 14-seater matatus should carry only eight passengers until the Covid-19 situation changes.

“Fourteen seater matatus should carry eight passengers only while those with a 30-plus capacity, to restrict to 60 percent of the number of seats,” he said.

Public service vehicle operators are also required to clean and fumigate their vehicles at the end of every trip to reduce the spread of coronavirus.

However, matatu operators have also largely failed to apply the cashless or mobile payment method ordered by President Uhuru Kenyatta after it emerged currency notes can spread the Covid-19.

Last week, Safaricom and Airtel waived sending fees for their mobile cash trasfer platforms followed by banks who waives transaction fees to encourage more mobile money transactions.